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Wonder Woman Refuses to Celebrate Violence

by Jill Raney

I love superhero movies. Like, my love for superhero movies borders on obsessive. (I saw Ant-Man on opening night. I already know what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day next year, and it’s seeing Black Panther. I will never, ever forgive Joss Whedon for Age of Ultron.) And I fracking love Wonder Woman, which may come as a surprise to some who know me for my work against Israel‘s occupation of the Palestinians.

First, Wonder Woman is an actual good superhero movie. It has an actual plot, several characters grow and change in meaningful ways, and the fight scenes are meaningful parts of all that plot and character development. Superhero movies are starting to ruin themselves, and it’s so satisfying to see a superhero movie use its tropes to tell a genuinely great story.

But more than that, it’s a superhero movie that doesn’t glorify violence. It’s an explicitly feminist superhero movie that doesn’t argue that women joining in on militarism is feminist — because feminism instead requires honoring every person’s humanity. Wonder Woman manages to make a coherent, compelling argument that violence doesn’t fix anything. Wonder Woman shows us that killing someone might stop that person from killing others, but killing someone doesn’t have the power to end suffering. Only loving each other, strategically, even when it’s hard, can do that.

This message is especially meaningful because Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot served in the Israel Defense Forces and makes a point to speak positively of her military experience, ignoring that her military service was a contribution to Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinians. As she told The Daily Beast, “I want people to have a good impression of Israel”.  (Loving problematic things is hard, and I respect the hell out of people who are skipping Wonder Woman because of Gal Gadot’s politics.)

I’m glad the talents behind Wonder Woman decided to alter the canon to tell a story of World War I, again for two reasons.  First, it makes it a better movie, because there’s already a great superhero movie about a hyper-competent brunette soldier and her boyfriend Steve who dies in an airplane in World War II. (Seriously, Wonder Woman manages to feel so fresh despite sharing many plot points with Captain America: The First Avenger. See: the hero gaining military training by subterfuge, a disfigured science-y supervillain who wears a mask, the romantic leads’ witty banter about sex and military tactics, the hero undertaking an unauthorized rescue mission and stopping the enemy’s chemical warfare alongside their international and racially diverse hand-picked special forces unit, a battlefield goodbye to doomed romance, a solemn celebration of the end of the war, etc. At least Diana and her Steve got laid, sorry Peggy and other Steve.)

But more than that, it gives the movie room to breathe that it might not have were its Israeli actress fighting Nazis on screen.

Extremely valid Jewish trauma from the Holocaust was the most reasonable of causes for many Jews to move to Palestine after World War II. Extremely valid Jewish trauma from the Holocaust, generations later, is much of what Jewish institutions throw in our faces unreasonably when a Jew speaks out against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. (Coincidentally, that’s what I was doing the same day as I saw Wonder Woman — and shortly before I crashed the Celebrate Israel Parade to hold a “No Celebration with Occupation” banner with IfNotNow, I saw a parade spectator wearing a “Magneto Was Right” t-shirt, which is a whole other essay about Jewish Holocaust trauma and troubling relationships to violence.)

Gal Gadot, with her decidedly non-English name, is visibly Jewish in a way her comic book actress contemporaries Natalie Portman (Thor’s genius girlfriend Jane Foster) and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff, who deserves her own Black Widow trilogy) are not. Surely many of us might feel some satisfaction to watch a famously Jewish actress punch Nazis in the face. But I suspect that, were Wonder Woman set in World War II, we would not have seen Diana be so forgiving to German soldiers once the immediate threat had passed. And that would have made Wonder Woman a lesser movie.

Diana seeks to kill Ares, believing that destroying him will end humanity’s inhumanity. She kills General Ludendorff, mistaking him for Ares, and finally kills Ares himself, but she spares Doctor Maru, whose supervillainous mustard gas had killed the villagers Diana had saved just days before. She spares the German soldiers who survived her battle with Ares. Diana knows that more killing will not end inhumanity, only love can do that.

The Israeli government and mainstream Jewish institutions refuse to allow our community to forgive, to spare those perceived as enemies, and that institutional refusal to honor Palestinians’ humanity in particular makes its way past our gas masks of critical thinking and into our minds and souls. As I saw Diana lift that tank over Doctor Maru, weigh the moral choice before her, and decide that this death would cost more than it would save, I couldn’t help thinking of Gal Gadot’s Instagram post in support of the Israeli troops who were attacking Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza war.

Did Doctor Maru deserve to die for her crimes against humanity?  It’s not about what she deserved, it’s about what you believe.

What’s so delightful about superhero stories is their ability to help us imagine what we might do if regular social norms or the laws of physics didn’t apply to us. They invite us to imagine who we might be if what holds us back weren’t there, and they invite us to consider whether the things holding us back are truly strong enough to stop us.

Diana, Princess of Themyscira, is a goddess, trained in combat by the Amazons to protect all life, raised in a peaceful (and queer, fight me) paradise, with no understanding of or patience for the misogynist, racist social mores of 1910s Europe. The rules don’t apply to her. I can’t fly, and neither can Gal Gadot, and sadly, neither of us has a Lasso of Truth. I’m an American Jew and I don’t know what it’s like to choose between jail time and mandatory service in an occupying army — but Gal Gadot does, and she made her choice. I do know I can expect some nonsense on Twitter for this piece, and I can expect continued hostility from Jewish institutions for my work to oppose the occupation.

The laws of physics and the expectations of our communities apply to us mere mortals. Those expectations that our communities place on us can feel as heavy as gravity, but they are not gravity, and we can choose to flex our ordinary, non-super muscles and push back.

Do Israelis and Palestinians deserve freedom and dignity? It’s not about what our people deserve, it’s about what our people believe.

It feels like too much to hope, but maybe some of the little Israelis who go see Wonder Woman because of Gal Gadot will internalize the movie’s message. Maybe they’ll grow up to refuse to occupy in part because of the example set by Diana, Princess of Themyscira.

Jill Raney is an anti-oppression advocate, entrepreneur, and enthusiastic genre nerd. They live in Washington, DC, where they are a member of IfNotNow, the Jewish movement to end our community’s support for the occupation.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

“You can save the world.” Those words are spoken by Chris Pine who plays Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, the latest superhero comic adaptation film that debuts in theaters this week and has all eyes on it for a long list of reasons. While those words focus on Wonder Woman’s role in the film it can also be taken as a statement about the movie as a whole which has the potential to transform cinema or become an excuse that’ll damn it for decades to come. I can’t think of a movie that has more pressure on it and has the potential to shape cinema like this film does.

Played by Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman is the film that many are looking towards to see if DC Comics and Warner Bros. can right their cinematic universe, whether a woman can headline such film and turn it into a blockbuster, and if so how much of a blockbuster can it be. It has the potential to shatter a ceiling that has plagued women led action films and especially comic films which have been dominated by testosterone. And, much like the rocks on the side of a tower as she climbs it, Gadot, director Patty Jenkins, and everyone involved crushes it delivering a film that while not super, delivers consistent entertainment that is one of the best origin story comic adaptations released by any company.

Wonder Woman is fun. Wonder Woman will have you cheering. Wonder Woman will put a smile on your face. Wonder Woman delivers the summer experience and leaves you wanting more and wondering why we’ve waited so long.

Much like Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman is framed through Bruce Wayne picking up from that film and the mysterious photo from World War I. Through that narrative we’re taken through an adventure that begins with Diana at a young age and her growing up until a mysterious individual crash lands in the waters off the shore of their island. Man has found their land of Themyscira the magical and hidden land of the Amazons. With war looming we learn of the mission of the Amazons, to protect the world from Ares who may or may not be behind the “War to End All Wars.”

The use of World War I as the setting, as opposed to World War II like some suggest, shows some of the intelligence that went into the film as the details, no matter how subtle, that create a film that soars. World War I provides the setting and helps with the theme of the birth of technology on many levels as technology is part of the enemy here embodied in Dr. Maru played by Elena Anaya. That extends to the world of the Amazons being shaken by the introduction of man and their technology easily represented by the bows versus guns battle that really kicks the film up a notch and Diana having to enter that new world to save it and defeat Ares.

Again, it’s the details that makes this film soar with its feminism firmly in place. Diana, as she’s introduced to the world of man, questions its norms through her actions, her words, the looks on her face. This is a warrior who fights for equality and freedom and has a pure innocence that radiates. She questions why a woman is a secretary. She questions why a room is just of men. She questions why she’s not allowed to speak up. She’s a stranger in a strange land and through her we’re shown that all of mankind is corrupted in different ways. She’s similar to Leeloo in the Fifth Element in a way. Innocence as a warrior who will save the world from a god.

But, what might have surprised me most is the film’s comedic tones to it all. While it could easily have taken a serious tone in lecturing the evils of man, instead, much of that is addressed through comedy. Much of that is just through Gadot’s actions and facial expressions showing this actress can do more than kick ass. She was surprisingly funny, not something I’ve ever seen in the previous action films I’ve seen her in. She’s helped by Pine who brings his usual charm but Gadot also plays off the brilliants cast including Lucy Davis, Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Eugene Brave Rock, with whom the film turns into a version of the Dirty Dozen.

Visually the film is engrossing from the varied Amazonians to a diverse cast, here the use of colors is deliberate taking place mostly in the drab mechanical world contrasted with the beauty of Diana’s homeland. While some have complained of the pallette choices of previous DC films, this one it adds depth and to the story.

Not everything is perfect though, the film falls a little flat in the final boss battle, though almost all comic adaptations have fallen flat in similar ways. The genre hasn’t overcome that villain in storytelling, yet. The story also has a little too much Steve Trevor who acts as Diana’s guide throughout the film and while their missions are on similar paths, at least aren’t one and the same.

95% of the film is fantastic and while it doesn’t do anything superb, it does everything to such a level I left entertained in a way I haven’t been at a film in a long time. This is one of the best comic origin stories to have been released and one of the best comic films to be released hands down from any company. The crowd cheered at the end with smiles, laughter, and energy buzzing about. Wonder Woman defeats the villain in the end but also feels like it will shatter the box office in many ways.

Overall Rating: 9.5

Lebanon’s Economic Ministry Calls for a Ban on Wonder Woman

Spats between nations looks like a hurdle even Wonder Woman can’t deflect. Lebanon‘s economy ministry has asked the country’s security agency to ban Warner Bros.‘ Wonder Women which opens this week. The reason? Lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli. The former request hasn’t been received as of this post.

Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and a decades-old law boycotts Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from traveling or having contact with Israelis. The war has flared up on and off of the years with a devastating volley in 2006 that left hundreds dead and damaged Lebanon’s infrastructure.

Gadot is Israeli and like many of its citizens, served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). She has also spoken out against the group Hamas who is considered by many to be a terrorist organization.

The ban requires a recommendation from a six-member committee from the Ministry of Economy, but that process hasn’t begun. The film is slated to open Wednesday and would be shown in at least one theater in Beirut.

Some members of the BDS movement have also attempted to build a boycott of the film. The “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement condemns Israeli policy towards Palestinians calling it “apartheid” and “settler-colonialism.” Some see the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.

(via Al Jazeera)

A New Look at the Big Screen Justice League

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

This new photo features Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ezra Miller as The Flash and Jason Momoa as Aquaman.

Justice League is out November 17, 2017.


Justice League Gets a New Teaser Image featuring Flash, Batman, and Wonder Woman

Warner Bros. Has released a new image from the upcoming Justice League film. The image features Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.  But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

The film comes to theaters November 11, 2017.

Justice League HAR_DM_FIRST LOOK RND F04

Deadpool, Reynolds, Robbie, and Negan Win Critics’ Choice Awards

Suicide SquadThe Critics’ Choice Awards were held this past Sunday and comic films represented not just with nominations, but also quite a few wins.

Margot Robbie won for Suicide Squad in the “Best Actress in an Action Movie” category. She was up against Gal Gadot for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Scarlett Johansson for Captain America: Civil War, and Tilda Swinton for Doctor Strange.

Deadpool did well winning “Best Comedy” up against Central Intelligence, Don’t Think Twice, The Edge of Seventeen, Hail, Caesar!, and The Nice Guys. Ryan Reynolds won for “Best Actor in a Comedy” for the title role in the film. Reynolds beat Ryan Gosling for The Nice Guys, Hugh Grant for Florence Foster Jenkins, Dwayne Johnson for Central Intelligence, and Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic.

deadpool posterRyan Reynolds was also honored as the “Entertainer of the Year.”

When it comes to television Jeffrey Dean Morgan won for “Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series” for his portrayal of Negan on The Walking Dead.

It wasn’t all wins though.

Doctor Strange lost in “Best Hair & Makeup,” “Best Visual Effects,” and “Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie.” Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, and Doctor Strange all lost in “Best Action Movie.” Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange, Chris Evans for Captain America: Civil War, and Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool all lost “Best Actor in an Action Movie.”

Take part in Gal Gadot & Patty Jenkins Facebook Live Chat

Wonder Woman is designated as United Nations Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The historic moment was live streamed and throughout the day there’s Q&As with individuals associated with the iconic character.

Currently, there’s a Facebook Live Q&A going on with director Patty Jenkins and actress Gal Gadot which you can participate in on the page or below.

Watch Live as Wonder Woman is Designated As United Nations Honorary Ambassador

To celebrate the historic moment when Wonder Woman is designated as the United Nations’ first Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, the United Nations will live stream the event beginning at 12 p.m. ET/ 9 a.m. PT on Friday, October 21, a day that also commemorates the iconic Super Hero’s official 75th anniversary. The event will be followed by Facebook Live and Twitter Q&As with Lynda Carter, as well as Gal Gadot with director Patty Jenkins.

In her new position, Wonder Woman will move beyond battling Super-Villains to raise awareness of the U.N.’s campaign for gender equality (Sustainable Development Goal No. 5) and the empowerment of women and girls as a critical component for a peaceful and prosperous world.

Leading up to the event, both the U.N. and DC Entertainment have launched websites that will provide regular updates and information about the campaign. Visit the U.N. site and DC’s site.

More details about the year-long campaign will be unveiled during the ceremony by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson. Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the beloved 1970s television series and now appears as president on The CW’s Supergirl, and Gal Gadot, who will star in next year’s Wonder Woman feature film, will also be part of the designation ceremony.

The livestream event is slated to run from approximately 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET on October 21.

The event will be followed by Facebook Live and Twitter Fan Q&As with Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, as well as a Facebook Live Q&A with Lynda Carter. Fans are invited to watch a Facebook Live conversation with Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins at 1pm ET/10am PT at Facebook.com/WonderWomanFilm, then at 1:20pm ET/10:20am PT follow @GalGadot and @PattyJenks for a live Twitter Q&A. At 1:30pm ET/10:30am PT fans can watch Facebook.com/TheCWSupergirl for a Facebook Live conversation with Lynda Carter.


The Justice League Gathers Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller, also known as, Batman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Flash. Together they’re 5/6 of the Justice League, and in their civilian identities the five actors have spoken out against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and their support of Rezpect Our Water.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is suing the federal government over the fact the Native American tribe was not consulted properly concerning the project which spans four states. The tribe fears the pipeline will contaminate their drinking war and damage their sacred lands. The pipeline would also run through recently discovered archeological find including grave markings. Less than 24 hours after a finding was submitted with the court to stop the construction, Dakota Access desecrated and destroyed that site.

So far, over 260,000 have signed a petition voicing their opposition to the pipeline which will damage the Standing Rock reservation and has been the subject of protests. The fight also crosses comic companies. Rosario Dawson, who plays Night Nurse on Marvel’s live-action Netflix shows, has voiced her opposition to the pipeline as well as Mark Ruffalo who plays the Hulk. The rest of the Avengers have been quiet on the issue.

Momoa has stated on Instagram “Sacred Aquaman is pissed” regarding the situation.

The protests have turned violent with protestors and private security having clashed. Protestors have had dogs attacking them as well as being pepper-sprayed.

A judge has granted part of an emergency request to halt construction of a section of the pipeline in North Dakota. Further rulings are expected Friday.

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